“You just know that she’s got an absolute engine so whenever you break, you’ve probably got Zoe in and around wherever you are,” Hunt said of her England team-mate. “She’s also pretty mouthy, so I’m not sure she would have forgiven me if I hadn’t given her that one.”
Bristol’s response was imminent, patiently stringing phases together as Gloucester allowed indiscipline to creep in. By the time Hannah West dived for the whitewash for a penalty try, referee Nikki O’Donnell reached for her pocket and it was Aldcroft who departed the field.
The hosts capitalised on the extra player and flooded forwards again, this time Bevan intuitively taking a quick tap-and-go penalty to sidestep a player almost double her size in Selisa Tuipulotu, to timely snipe over on the cusp of half time.
Many have raved about the potential of Tuipulotu, a powerful, 18-year-old Welsh second row of Tongan descent whose brother Carywn plays for Scarlets. A 17-stone tower of pure muscle, she crashed over the line for the game’s opening score after just five minutes which was emblematic of Gloucester’s clinicality at the start of both halves.
Emma Sing, a peripheral player in England’s squad who is yet to make her Red Roses debut, made an early case to be included in Simon Middleton’s Six Nations squad later this spring. The full-back orchestrated much of her side’s attacking play to help seal her side’s victory, before two further scores from Underwood.
Scoring sequence: 0-5 Tuipulotu try, 0-7 Snowsill con, 0-12 Aldcroft try, 7-12 penalty try, 12-12 Bevan try, 14-12 Reed con, 14-17 Lund try, 14-19 Sing con, 14-24 Sing try, 14-26 Sing con, 14-31 Underwood try, 14-36 Underwood try.
Bristol: K Powell, J Hesketh (G Compton 60), E Lovibond, A Reed, C Keight (G Crompton 59), E Snowsill (L Skuse), K Bevan (L Burgess 55); C Kill (E Mulhearn 59), H West (H Phillips 55), S Bern (S Phillips 67), N John, H Cunningham (D Burns 9), S Lillicrap (D Mayes 67), J Herring, R Marston.
Gloucester-Hartpury: E Sing, E Underwood, R Lund (T Copson) T Heard (K Lake 67), K Smith, L George (R Wilkins 71), N Hunt (A Maude 71); C Hope (K Buggy 60), E Gilbert (N Jones 40), C Hale (R Samuda 71), S Tuipulotu, G Crabb, Z Aldcroft (A Dale 67, T Copson 74), B Lewis, G Brock.
Yellow card: Aldcroft, Marston.
Ref: Nikki O’Donnell